Hundreds of shoppers crammed into a Selfridges store in London today for the Boxing Day sale but London footfall plummeted by 67 per cent on 2019 as Covid-19 pushed shoppers online – where the average Brit has spent £247 today.
Customers armed with umbrellas and wearing their winter jackets streamed through the fashion chain’s store on Oxford Street as the branch opened its doors to shoppers at 11am.
Meanwhile others were spotted gathering outside a JD Sports store at ‘s Bull Ring as the clothes chain also launched its Boxing Day sales.
But footfall at shopping sites across the UK on Boxing Day up to noon was 45 per cent below the 2019 level, according to data from retail expert Springboard.
In central London, footfall was 67 per cent lower than 2019 numbers, while it was 58 per cent below 2019 in other major UK cities.
Market towns fared slightly better, seeing a 12 per cent decrease from 2019 shopping traffic, while there was only a seven per cent drop in outer London.
New coronavirus restrictions have come into force today in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which may have had an impact on the number of shoppers hitting the sales.
Footfall in Northern Ireland was 73 per cent below the 2019 level, 63 per cent lower in Wales, and almost 50 per cent lower in Scotland.
Restrictions of pushed buyers online, where shoppers plan to spend more in this year’s post-Christmas sales than they have in the last two years.
Shoppers are expected to spend an average of £247 each in the end-of-year sales – an increase of £85 on 2020 and £61 more than 2019.
Hundreds of shoppers crammed into a Selfridges store in London today for the Boxing Day sale
Despite the scenes on Oxford Street today, Boxing Day footfall plummeted by 67 per cent on 2019, according to data from retail expert Springboard
Lines begin to form inside the Trafford Centre in Manchester as the Boxing Day sales begin
A large group of people begin to gather outside a JD Sports for the Boxing Day sales in Birmingham
Around 30 per cent of bargain hunters have admitted they started browsing the sales on Christmas Eve, while 27 per cent will have spent some time shopping on Christmas Day, according to the latest research.
The scenes come as some of the UK’s biggest stores including Marks & Spencer, Next and John Lewis decided not to open today, giving workers a day off after a year dominated by the pandemic.
The UK’s largest toy chain, The Entertainer, will also stay shut on religious grounds, as it does every Sunday.
Despite the drop in footfall, large queues formed outside the Trafford Centre in Manchester with shoppers waiting since 8am, while bargain hunters also lined up outside Primark in Birmingham and Zara in Bristol.
There were also queues outside Selfridges, Boots, Primark, Disney and Zara on Oxford Street in London.
Queueing outside the Disney store in Oxford Street, London to shop on her daughter’s behalf, Nic Portway from London told the PA news agency she was not planning on spending much in the sales but was happy to still go to the shops in person despite the rise in Covid cases.
She said: ‘I am not really surprised by how many people are out because we have got to get on with it, there is always going to be another variant so what do we do?
‘We can’t keep locking down every time there is a new variant otherwise everything will just stop.’
Another shopper said she only came out on Boxing Day because her planned Christmas Day online shopping at Zara fell through due to an error on the app.
The woman said: ‘I was surprised to see this many people out and about, when I walked down Oxford Circus there was hardly anyone around, but then when I arrived at Oxford Street there were big queues, all around the corners.’
Masks were worn by most shoppers on Oxford Street, whether in a queue or walking around but many of the shops were not full of people.
Another shopper said she only came out on Boxing Day because her planned Christmas Day online shopping at Zara (pictured, on Oxford Street) fell through due to an error on the app
Hundreds of shoppers stream through the doors at Selfridges in London this morning for the Boxing Day sales
Shoppers stream through the entrance as doors open for the start of the Boxing Day sales at Selfridges department store on Oxford Street in London
People carry umbrellas and wear their coats as they wait outside JD Sports and prepare for the sales
People queue up outside Selfridges on Oxford Street in London for the Boxing Day sales